Sunday, July 8, 2007

Credited most recently to have been developed by the research teams of University of Nebraska and the University of Florida, the flat iron steak has been gaining in popularity with restaurants across the United States. You can thank the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for funding research to make this tasty, tender economical steak better known, along with the Chuck Tender, and shoulder Clod “heart”.

The beef cut is actually a top blade steak derived from the tender top blade roast. The roast is separated into two pieces by cutting horizontally through the center to remove the heavy connective tissue.

It was named after an old style of iron called..yes the "Flat Iron", because it is similar in shape.

One of my favorite meat markets (other than Diablo Foods where I spent 8 years behind the counter, so I may be biased) was Petrini’s in Walnut Creek. I never had the opportunity to work there although I wish I had. In the same way a Chef reviews other menus and eats at other’s restaurants, I used to wonder in front of the meat counter and marvel at the different cuts that they offered.

I remember seeing cuts of meat cut in ways that I barely recognized, where they using the same cattle that we were?

Frank Petrini was a master merchandiser. In the distributor business today we call certain products further processed, if we have trimmed them, par-cooked, pre-sliced and so on. The Petrini’s butchers further processed everything. The selection was extensive, and where in my market we sold a chuck roast…Petrini’s sold a Mock Tender, Petite Steak, Butter Steak, Chuck Short Rib, Heart Steaks, and so on and so on-merchandising every muscle of the animal. (To give proper recognition Dan Stokes, second generation owner of Diablo Foods did claim exclusive rights to the term “Quiff Steak”, I assume from the shape of the cut referring to a hairdo)

Petrini's markets were known as being the very best markets in the North California region for gourmet meats and food. The butchers were well trained and very well taken care of by the business. The founder of the market, Frank Petrini, considered each of the market's employees as family, and encouraged the employees to treat each other as such.
Mickey Petrini behind the Meatcounter.
He greeted customers he knew personally, which were most regular customers, with a hug and kiss. Frank Petrini carefully selected the cows that were to be slaughtered for sale in his markets himself, and rejected a majority of the bovine that were used for prime meat by other markets. Petrini's markets was the first large grocery store chain to specialize in quality gourmet food, and Frank Petrini thus created model that has been followed since by grocers both in the United States as well as in Japan, Australia and Europe. Some of the best selections of wine, coffee beans and European food in the San Francisco area were also found at Petrini's.

Petrini's market was established by Frank Petrini, an Italian immigrant butcher from Lammari, Lucca.

Frank Petrini 3rd from the left.

He began working at age 12 in Italy, and was trained to be a butcher at age 14. He traveled to the United States alone in 1922, being the first in his family to come. He came directly to San Francisco with $5 in his pocket and started immediately working as a butcher from 6am to 7pm every day. He originally wanted to go to college, but with the advice of a priest, who was the director of the English school he attended, he concentrated on becoming the best butcher in San Francisco.


rasmusson said...

We have a cook book we got from a Petrini's Market many years ago. We would like to have a copy -- or, really, two or three copies to give to our grandchildren. The recipes are (a) great, and (b) often show different ways to use various cuts of meat.

Email me at

Ralph said...

I worked at Petrini's in Greenbrae, the flagship store as they called it, from '86 to '97, until Molly Stone's took it over and fired a whole bunch of us journeymen, replacing us with cheap, inexperienced apprentices. That is something Frank Petrini would have never done. He had far more class than Mike Stone. Would love to have a copy of that cookbook. LONG LIVE REAL GOURMET MARKETS!

Lou said...

Petrini's was the best ever. I would love to get recipe for their Potato Salad. I try to duplicate it but nt the same. I anyone has recipe please share.
Thank you,

Lou Hall

Ralph said...

I agree about the potato salad recipe- it was fantastic! Last I heard there were still a couple deli people from the Petrini's-era working behind the counter at the Greenbrae Store (now Molly Stone's). If you're lucky you might find a clue there- or in the Novato store on San Marin Drive, which is now Harvest Market. Still a few older Petrini's hold-outs in the business up there as well. Good luck! We all miss Petrini's, a legacy almost gone forever except in the minds and gastronomic memory of some in the Bay Area...

allan harsh said...

I also would like to purchase that cook book as I am looking for that Sausage/apple turkey stuffing recipe. If you know it, please email me,, or call 602 803-9900, Petrinis gave out the recipe at the meat dept at tne Greenbrae market.

aharsh said...

I also would like a copy of Petrini's cook book and Petrini's Sausage/apple stuffing recipe. I originally got it at Petrini's meat dept in Greenbrae, CA, but have since lost it. I can be contacted at or 602 803-9900

aharsh said...

I also would like to purchase Petrini's cook book. I also am looking for the Sausage/apple stuffing that I got from Petrini's meat dept in Greenbrae, CA. If anyone can help me, my email is, mbl. 602 803-9900,

Anonymous said...

3You all might want to check out There are a couple of booksellers selling the Petrini's Cookbook, also the stuffing receipe is in that book as well.